Last week’s post A New Lease of Life referred to conservation work recently carried out on the reports produced by the Salvation Army Colony at Hadleigh. One of the challenges the archives team face is where to go for advice and guidance on the physical care fo the collections. One of our first stops is the National Preservation Office (NPO), part of the British Library’s Collection Care Department. The NPO provides guidance for practitioners in libraries, archives and museums in the form of guidance leaflets, reports, training days and conferences across the spectrum of preservation from dealing with acid paper, managing the library environment to coping with digital materials.
On Tuesday I spend the morning attending one of a number of focus groups the NPO have been running in conjunction with RLUK to investigate training and staff development needs in the area of preservation across the UK’s research libraries. Eight participants drawn from libraries, archives and museums met to try and help both the NPO and RLUK identify some of the strategic and practical issues to be faced in this area.
The group were asked to think about the most helpful sources of support in learning more about preservation issues in the past year and where we have struggled to find relevant guidance. We were also asked to consider three current issues (digital preservation, the problem of acid paper and consortial and collaborative working) and consider the staff development requirements of each issue.
It was clear from the discussions that while there is much excellent support there remain gaps at all levels from preservation advocacy for chief executives and funders to ensuring that conservators, with specific skills such as photographic materials or textiles continue to be trained.
Concerned as we are to ensure that out collections are available not only to current researchers but generations in the future this is an important piece of work and I am looking forward to reading the report when it comes out towards the end of the summer.